On Human Nature and Political Ideologies

This paragraph in the “Human Nature” chapter of my Introduction to Philosophy textbook speared me, considering the turmoil before, during and continuing after our most recent elections.  It’s a long paragraph so bear with me.  I’ll split it at points to add more white space for emphasis and where my mind flipped thoughts from ‘right’ to ‘left’ instead of its usual on-edge position:

Your perception of human nature determines even how you think we should set up our society. Ask yourself this, for example: Should our society be based on capitalism or socialism?

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Rise and Fall of Digital Empires

I did a happy dance this morning as I read through my morning Flipboard cover stories.  This headline caught my eye enough to drill-down and read the entire article:

Microsoft threatened as smartphones and tablets rise, Gartner warns

The Guardian, April 4, 2013

This came as welcome news to me, especially after last week’s devastating development where Amazon gobbled up GoodReads.  Microsoft used to hold the top spot on my boycott list, but thanks to BYOD (bring your own device), I can see the digital writing on the wall for the fall of Microsoft.  At least I’ll keep hoping and dreaming of that day.


Dare I compare Microsoft to Ancient Rome?  The terrain may be different (virtual instead of reality), but the goals appear similar (world conquest).  Instead of taking centuries to rot and collapse, our modern day equivalent is fading into obscurity and irrelevance in a matter of decades.  In my lifetime, the hardware has changed dramatically since the mid-70s and the software no less so.


For everyday consumers, I’m not sure Microsoft can salvage their sinking ship.  Apple and Android seized the day and their stars are still rising.  In the corporate world, Microsoft will remain strong and may succeed in wrestling and cajoling enterprise customers into SaaS (software as a service) licensing agreements.  I just don’t see the desktop completely disappearing in some industries (like legal where I’m employed).  Document production is still done fastest with a real keyboard, but perhaps voice recognition apps will make even QWERTY disappear soon.

So with Microsoft slipping sliding away, I can return my boycott sites on the next worst case and keep spreading the bad news about Amazon.  Buyer Beware!  Author Beware!

Sevens and Seventy-Sevens

I rarely turn the radio on in my car.  I will when I’m driving the van, because forty-five minutes is a long time to maintain a conversation.  But when I step out of the van and start up my car for the two mile drive home, there just doesn’t seem any point to turning on the radio.  The fall weather this week begged me to open all four windows, though, and crank the volume.  So I did.  I caught the tail end of a Scorpions song on 101 the Fox (don’t ask me which one … it was probably “Rock You Like a Hurricane” … but I’m not entirely sure).  The next song immediately grabbed my attention, as I hadn’t listened to it for years.

The Grand Illusion (Styx 1977)
The Grand Illusion (Styx 1977)

First, let’s take a giant leap backwards to the late 70s, specifically July, 7, 1977, the release date for the seventh album of a band I couldn’t get enough of in my early adolescence . . . Styx.  Back then, I barely knew what rock ‘n’ roll was.  Heck, I hadn’t even officially made it to the ‘teen’ years yet at that point.  But over the coming months, you couldn’t turn on a radio without hearing “Come Sail Away” or “Angry Young Man” or “Miss America” or, as I heard last night “The Grand Illusion.”

I’ve played piano since I was five (more than forty years), so I naturally gravitated to Dennis DeYoung‘s compositions (my all-time favorite being “Castle Walls” from this album, but my favorite to perform is “Pieces of Eight” from the eighth album released the following year).  And, yes, I could play at least the opening to “Come Sail Away” from memory when I was in high school, along with the Entertainer, which was still popular thanks to that movie with Newman and Redford starring in it.

So even though I arrived home mid-way through the Grand Illusion, I sat in the garage, with the windows rolled down and the stereo blaring until I reached the bubble-bursting end-of-song stanza below:

America spells competition, join us in our blind ambition
Get yourself a brand new motor car
Someday soon we’ll stop to ponder what on Earth’s this spell we’re under
We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are

Back in the late 70s, before the recession (and heat wave) of the early 80s, and the dot-com bubble pop that followed later (was it the 90s or the 00s?) and now the ‘Great Recession,’ I can really feel the pain of these words.  Does America still spell ‘C-O-M-P-E-T-I-T-I-O-N’? or have we outsourced it all?  Are we blind to ambition or just blind?  I have yet to purchase a ‘brand new motor car’ and probably never will.  I’ve been pondering for decades what spell we’ve deluded ourselves with because I still don’t think I’ve made the grade and I think Roxy has more of an idea who she is than America does right now.

So I’ll close with a quote from my aforementioned favorite song from the Grand Illusion album, something I previously  consider a mantra, but have long since moved on to something more positive, encouraging and inspiring (check out Phil. 4:8 for my ‘life verse’):

Life is never what it seems
And every man must meet his destiny